First Tier – Must Starts
- Pittsburgh – Coming off a pretty bland fantasy week, they’ll look to pounce on the Ravens in this division rivalry.
- New York Giants – Still flying under the radar for the most part, even after scoring double-digit fantasy points in each of the past three weeks. This week? A completely disjointed Philadelphia Eagle team comes to the Meadowlands. Seek shelter, Eagle fans.
- Chicago – Their Week 11 opponent, the Carolina Panthers, have been firing on all cylinders offensively, but QB Jake Delhomme will fling the ball into double coverage without a second thought. The smokin’-hot Bears defense will surely be up for the challenge.
Second Tier – Solid Starts
- Jacksonville – As the season wears on, their value will continue to rise, based on their remaining schedule. This week will be a test of how their defense can transform from a solid NFL defense into a solid fantasy defense. The Titans’ offense doesn’t pose much of a threat, even at home.
- Seattle – Based on matchup alone (against the 49ers), they’re worthy of starting. On top of that, they’ve been playing decent defensive football as of late. DB Marques Manuel is due for another huge game.
- Denver – Similar to Seattle, they’re worthy based on matchup alone (facing the hapless Jets at home). Scored 16 big points last week. Expect a number right around there this week.
- Carolina – The Panthers are coming off two huge fantasy weeks, and will look to disrupt the Bear rushing attack and pester young Bear QB Kyle Orton. Orton has shown the propensity to throw picks; don’t be shocked if he throws a couple this coming week.
- Cincinnati – Remember that face that Peyton Manning usually gets when playing the Patriots in Foxboro? Well, we haven’t seen it much this season, but if any team is going to cause turnovers against the Colt juggernaut, it’s the Bengals. Perhaps we see that constipated-like look again a few times this week.
- Indianapolis – Overall, they’re still top dog fantasy-wise, but have only averaged 4.5 fantasy points over their past two games. Cincinnati’s offense poses a big threat this week, so this represents a major test for the Colts’ defense, both NFL and fantasy-wise.
- Dallas – They made up for a pretty bland outing against the Eagles in the last few minutes of the game last week. This week, they host the Lions, who will look to continue their hot play. It’s not likely to happen, especially against the young, talented and opportunistic Cowboy defenders.
Third Tier - Best of the Rest
- Minnesota – I was going to add a caveat at the end of this column, stating that the Vikings’ Week 10 blow-up was a complete and utter one-week wonder. But then I started to think, “Hmm… well, they added some nice parts to their defense, and maybe they’ve simply been underperforming. Was last week simply the spark they needed for greatness?”. Perhaps, but probably not. But they’re worth a flier if no one better jumps out at you in terms of a fantasy defense. They play on MNF against a Packer team led by QB Brett Favre, who’s known to try and push and make the big play. Think Viking DB Darren Sharper is pumped for this one?
- St. Louis - Think the Rams will be ready for whatever Warner has to throw at them? No
running game, a banged-up WR corps, and a statuesque Warner will make for easy
pickin's. Not a bad choice if you don't mind a little risk/reward.
Note: League scoring used for this column is 2 points for safety, fumble recovery, blocked punt or FG, 1 point for blocked PAT or sack, 6 points for defensive or special team TDs, and anywhere from 10 to 2 points based on points allowed.